Superior Dawn

IMG_3089 edit.jpgPerhaps the best thing about winter is that you don’t have to wake up in the wee hours to watch the sun rise.  For instance, you can roll out of bed at the usual time, spend half an hour bundling yourself up, stumble your way around the pre-dawn perimeter of an unfamiliar hotel building, risk life and limb to bump your way in sitting position down the steep bouldered bank to the shore—and still make it in time to watch the entire show at leisure.

Now this (all hazardous icy rocks at the bottom aside) is a photographer’s dream life.IMG_3092 edit.jpgIMG_3100 edit.jpgIMG_3114 edit.jpgIMG_3126 edit.jpgIMG_3123 edit 1.jpgimg_3146 editIMG_3127 edit.jpgThe wind off the big lake was so surprisingly mild for December, and the sound of the rhythmic waves so pleasant, I found a non-icy log to perch on and paused from my photography long enough to pull out my phone and find my Bible reading plan for the day.  And this, totally unplanned by me, was what popped up:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.” (Isaiah 9:2)

IMG_3152 edit.jpgIt was like God whispering into the stillness of the dawn that these photos I was taking were really pictures of Him.

Warmth creeping in to melt the cold.  Black fading to blue, then pink, then blazing gold.  Light flooding into darkness.  It was all just an echo of what He had done, what He is doing, and what He will yet do.

For me huddled on a rocky shore with a hat hastily pulled over my un-brushed bed hair.

For the receptionist in the lobby counting down the minutes until she got off night shift.

For the person in the car across the bay pausing from their work commute in the marina parking lot to watch the same thing I was.

For all the people waiting for Light, all over the world.IMG_3159 editIMG_3166 edit.jpgAs I picked my way back along the sun-kissed shore, pondering this, I looked up and spotted a different trail up the bank.  It was a safer, gentler route, one that I couldn’t see in the unfamiliar, un-mapped darkness, the way I should have taken on my way down.  I headed up, the sun warm on my back, relieved to walk confidently and upright instead of clambering awkwardly.

Again, I saw the echoes of His love, as what was once hidden in darkness was illuminated by light.  Funny how much easier it is to find the best way in the light, just like it is to find the only Way in the true Light.

“Who among you walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD; let him lean on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)

“I will turn darkness into light before them and rough places into level ground. These things I will do for them, and I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” (Ephesians 5:8)

GPS

IMG_1282.JPGIt all began with a few simple needs that could be easily taken care of at a Walmart.  It would be a quick errand, I thought.  The only (small) problem?  I didn’t know where Walmart was in this unfamiliar city.

But that’s what GPS is for.

“Take me to Walmart,” I said to my phone as I contemplated the less-than-exciting but unavoidable prospect of backing an awkwardly long truck out on a blind curve.  “Okay, go now—FAST!” my husband shouted from the curb.  I stepped on the gas and watched his eyes get big as I came to a halt on the other side, mere inches from a signpost.  IMG_1311.JPG“After 50 feet take a left turn onto 8th Street,” the confident feminine voice instructed.  Still rattled from the close call with street signage, I sailed right past, missing my very first turn.

“In half a mile, take a right onto Center Street,” the voice calmly redirected.  At the intersection of Center Street, I found myself facing a road under massive construction.  I didn’t really want to go down there, so I picked a different road, hopeful that the voice would redirect me around the construction area.  No such luck.

“In one quarter of a mile, take a U-turn at the stoplight,” the voice instructed, not to be dissuaded.  I got to the stoplight, where two things became clear.  1) This big awkward truck was not going to be making this U-turn, and 2) getting to Walmart in an unfamiliar city was going to be a lot more complicated than I’d ever imagined.IMG_1303.JPGBut we eventually got there, that big truck and I, surprisingly all in one piece.  We went around the block to get back on track instead of making the U-turn.  We survived the road construction.  The voice from my phone carried me through, calm and unruffled through all my missed turns and second-guesses.

“Destination reached,” it informed me cheerfully as I pulled into the big store’s parking lot.  So, it really had known where it was going.  Well, that was a relief!  Now was the time to admit that I would have gotten there a lot faster if I’d paid closer attention and trusted it more implicitly—but what can I say?  I may be a millennial, but I’m still a little distrustful of allowing a robot to tell me what to do.

IMG_1355.JPG IMG_1406.JPGIMG_1380-1.jpgSometimes, the right way to go in life is a little like that, too.  You know, not quite as direct and smooth as we’d like?  And sometimes, even if you’re asking the right One for directions, it’s easy to mistrust and question whether He really knows where He’s taking you.  Sometimes we even go so far as to strike out on our own, hoping He’ll change his mind to suit our preferences

But if we know God and His Word, we also know that, unlike a GPS system, He doesn’t fail or make mistakes.  Our human feelings and inclinations may tempt us to question, and even lure us off track, but His ways are perfect and He remains faithful.

And loving.  Loving enough to patiently, persistently reroute us in the right direction after every foible.  Loving enough to stay with us every step of the way, right through the missed turns, road construction, and awkward U-turns.

It’s the ultimate GPS system, really: God’s Positioning Service

“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” (Psalm 23:3-4)

(P.S. Photos not taken while looking for Walmart.)

Along the Winter Shore

IMG_2077 editIf you’ve ever stood on the shore of Lake Superior on a summer day, you know the feeling. Waves crashing on the rocks at your feet, sending spray high into the air, vast expanse of water stretching to meet the sky on the horizon.  It’s big; you’re small.  It’s a magnificent feeling.

The great lake in the winter is no different, I discovered recently.

Colder, yes.

Very differently framed in a muted palette of ice and snow that somehow manages to shift the highlights on the waves from gold to silver.

But certainly no less breathtaking.

While our husbands were skiing the mountains one afternoon, my friend and I took advantage of the grandmas willing to babysit our little people and went down to a lakeside resort to pick up cross-country ski passes and get information on trail conditions.  The moody gray sweep of the lake was just outside the big windows lining the front of the lodge, and when we stepped outside after obtaining what we had come for, we looked at each other and agreed.  The water was calling; we couldn’t leave without getting closer.

IMG_2053The trail was very icy, so we didn’t go far.  Instead we went along cautiously until we found a spot with a good view, and then stood still to take in the magnificence of it all.  I couldn’t help thinking of Psalm 93 as I watched to the blue-gray waves crash on the rocks below us.

“The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;

indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.  

Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity..IMG_2063 edit…The seas have lifted up, LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves…IMG_2058 edit.jpgMightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea– the LORD on high is mighty.  Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.”  (Psalm 93)

Amen!

Mountain Sunset

IMG_1959 edit.jpgWe just returned from a trip to the Sawtooth Mountains on the north shore of Lake Superior.  For much of our visit there, the peaks around us were veiled in fog or falling snow, but on the eve of our arrival, I was granted this sweeping vista with a clear view of craggy Moose Mountain silhouetted against the setting sun.

Certainly this gentle series of peaks pales in comparison to, say, the Rockies or the Andes, but I still loved looking up at them as we drove up the shore.  Even more, I loved waking up to the view of this particular peak each morning of our stay in their midst.  Had I not been pregnant, I would have loved to strap on some skis and join my husband and friends on a gondola ride to the peak so I could feel the mountain beneath my own two feet during the thrill of descent.

But even though I had to stay behind and only stare up the slopes from the valley, I was content with my view.  I may enjoy the conquest of a good ski slope (and I fully intend to join them next year!), but honestly the thing that inspires me the most about mountains is not whether I’m on top or at the bottom.  It boils down to a simple fact that I can appreciate no matter where I’m viewing them from:

that they’ve been there as long as anyone can remember.

The resorts and roads and trees and homes  and towns around them have come and gone over the years, while these peaks have solidly withstood the test of time. And they’ll be there next year, and the next, and the next.  Perhaps it’s because so many things in the world seem to be constantly teetering on the brink of uncertainty, but there’s something in me that finds comfort in things that stay the same.

Which makes these passages even more awe-inspiring:

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  (Psalm 90:2)

“The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed– but he marches on forever.”  (Habakkuk 3:6)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”  (Isaiah 54:10)IMG_1955 editThe amazing thing is that we serve a God whose eternal unchanging-ness supersedes the mountains.  Even if these seemingly immovable peaks were to unexpectedly blow up and slide into the depths of Lake Superior, He would still be God.  He is the only thing that we can truly count on to never change.

Now that is a fact to take comfort in!